Texas Tech basketball is nationally relevant … and the city it’s in is pretty special too

What’s the best thing about Texas Tech basketball?

  • Star Red Raider player Jarrett Culver is from Lubbock and went to Coronado High School?
  • Tech’s killer defense?
  • Head coach Chris Beard’s fun “Fireside Chats” with Breaking News alerts telling students  if they came to Anaheim for the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games they could stay in  Assistant Coach Mark Adams’ room and he’d get them tickets?
  • The rowdy student section that keeps a running number of opponent missed free throws?

That’s all good, but the best thing  is Texas Tech is going to the Final Four for the first time in school history.

Last year it was a never-before  trip to the Elite Eight before losing to eventual champion Villanova.

Now this team’s taken another  historic step.

A couple of months ago, Chris told me:

“This year’s theme is consistency. We’ve proven we’re good enough to compete but can we be consistent? Every player on our team has proven they’re good enough to play at this level – but can they be consistent? If we can start doing it back-to-back games, back-to-back weeks, back-to-back months, then it turns into back-to-back seasons and then you become relevant nationally,” he said.

The Red Raiders are relevant nationally.

‘(Chris Beard) has taken Lubbock and Texas Tech and made it a destination for players and fans.’

ESPN’s Seth Greenberg (no relation) said Saturday night: “(Chris Beard) has taken Lubbock and Texas Tech and made  it a destination  for players and fans,”

Texas Tech and Lubbock are not always relevant nationally … many times the butt of jokes about rear-view mirrors, dust storms and our lack of topography.

And some folks around here even buy into  the trash talking.

When I lined up a mover to come to Lubbock in 2006, the woman at the moving company in Lubbock asked me, “Why would you want to move here?”

When you’re told you’re an insignificant backwater burg for decades, maybe you start to believe it.

I never have and Lubbock isn’t. It’s a vibrant city with a great economy and  the home of a world-class university.

As most of you know, I’m from Hollywood … mom still lives 20 blocks south of the famous Chinese Theater in the house my family moved into in 1959.

I go back home two-to-three times a year and by the time I’m done driving in L.A. for a few days I can feel my stress level rise. I know some of you who’ve lived here a long time think traffic in Lubbock has become terrible.

It isn’t.

It’s one of a number of reasons I love living here.

It’s one of a number of reasons I love living here.

I like our glorious desolation, the caprock, West Texas barbecue …

I’ve seen Paul McCartney, Elton John, the Eagles, James Taylor, Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman  in this city.

And as people say all the time, it’s the people.

If people are happy to live here and work hard, they are generally respected and appreciated.

And that’s why I love Tech basketball.

A trip to the Final Four is the result of hard work.

The Red Raiders are not flashy. They’re not featured on  ESPN Sports Center’s Top Plays every night.

They win basketball by generally keeping opponents shooting less than 40 percent and getting more rebounds.

If you do that consistently, you should win more games than you lose.

It’s not flashy, but it works.

 

It’s not flashy, but it works.

But that’s not all.

Culver has made his hometown proud with his slashing moves to the basket and all expectations are we’ll see him in the NBA next season.

Italian import Davide Moretti rained three-point shots and nailed free throws, especially with the game on the line.

Senior grad transfers Matt Mooney and Tariq Owens were monster additions to the team this year.

They and others made individual contributions.

But together, they were a formidable team … especially on defense.

Buffalo and Gonzaga both averaged 80-some points during the season. The Red Raiders held Buffalo under 60 and the Zags under 70.

The Red Raiders have made us proud and I expect Chris Beard to keep this going.

No matter what happens next Saturday in Minneapolis, I hope to see massive crowds fill United Supermarkets Arena next year to show our appreciation.

I was disappointed in the turnout for the Oklahoma State game after Tech blew out Kansas in Lubbock. It was still a big crowd compared to a few years ago.

But great programs have a full house every night … in November and March. And that matters to recruits.

The Red Raiders are stepping up to heights never before seen.

I hope the fans step up just a bit more next season.